Over 77% of websites track and record your activity
When you access the Internet your browser sends personal information such as search keywords, previous website, location, language, browser, operating system and browsing history to every website you visit.
Websites use sophisticated analytics and tracking services that record every action you perform, allowing website owners to see exactly where you came from, what you are doing and what you are interested in. You are given a unique number that your browser sends each time you request a page that links all your visits to the website together allowing webmasters to spy on your every move.
They create detailed profiles of your browsing habits
Your data is collected and over time and a detailed profile is built based on your previous visits and geographic data. Website owners can use this information to look at the exact pages you visit and with some third party systems can even record and playback your entire visit history as many time as they like without your knowledge or permission.
Ad-networks take this further by tracking activity from many websites and adding all the information together, allowing them to build up a very accurate picture of you personally, including your age, gender, financial status, location, interests and buying habits which they sell on to third party companies.
Your personal information is sold to third parties
As these profiles contain such a high amount of personal data and because so many websites are connected these profiles contain a dangerous amount of information that is now being sold to third party companies such as insurance firms that use the information for much more than market research.
Insurance companies are testing systems that look to assess a potential customers risk based upon their browsing habits. Using this data they can look for ‘markers’ that indicate that a customer runs a higher risk of health or financial problems or use it to verify information provided by the applicant when they start their application. In one example reported by the Wall Street Journal a customer who reports having no cancer in his family could be flagged by a system that detects ‘online an affinity with a cancer-research group’.
NoTracks blocks web trackers and analytics
Web-Trackers (or Web-Analytics trackers) are services used by website owners to track visits to their website and record every action their users perform. Using uniquely identifiable information these systems can keep track of multiple visits to a website building up a database of user habits and trends.
Along with a record of your page views and actions these services also save your location, language, time-zone, browser and computer information (resolution, colours, any plugins used, computer type).
NoTracks blocks ad-networks
Ad-Network tracking works in a similar way to web trackers except that they track you across multiple websites using third party cookies and other methods to identify you. Using this technology they build up a profile of you as an individual including you age, gender, likes, dislikes, browsing habits, interests and even highly personal information like medial conditions and household income.
This information is then used to target specific adverts to you or in some cases sold on to third parties for use in market research and targeted advertising.
NoTracks blocks search trackers
When you click on a search engine result from Google, Microsoft or any other major search engine information about your searches is sent to the destination website. This information is collected by the destination website and ad-networks (yes them again!) and added to your hidden profile. This same information is then stored and sold on to other companies without your knowledge or consent.
NoTracks stop this tracking by removing all traces of your search terms from the requests to the destination website, that website then has no idea where you came from, let alone what you were searching for.